Barwell v St Ives Town
Pitching In Southern League Premier Division Central 18-12-2021
An early Christmas cracker served up by two sides who seemed to have forgotten how to defend at times each taking their turn to try and throw the game away. Any neutrals in the crowd will have enjoyed it immensely, but for the supporters of either side the roller coaster of emotion was at times hard to bear.
Ives made three changes to the starting eleven from last weeks defeat at Bromsgrove. An enforced one in goal where Ben Heath returned replacing Oxford United loanee Mackenzie Chapman who broke a bone in his hand during the game against the Rouslers and will face a few weeks on the side lines. Last weeks stand in right back Callum Milne was replaced by another loanee from the U’s Ben Watt who made his debut for the visitors. The third change in the centre of the park was the welcome return from suspension of Michael Richens replacing Tyrone Baker who joined Milne on the bench.
Although the hosts could now boast a brand new 3G surface at Kirkby Road, Ives quickly found it was very different to their own artificial surface with the “grass” trimmed much shorter and a lot more rubber crumb meaning that the ball moved with less fluidity than at Westwood Road.
But Ives could not really blame the surface for a sluggish start and keeper Heath came to their salvation twice in the first seven minutes. Tristan Dunkley outpaced Brett Solkhon on the left edge of the box in fifth minute and floated up a cross to the back post where Ben Stephens had ghosted in looking like he must score, his header was on target but Heath somehow got himself across his goal line to block the effort on the line. Ben Toseland half cleared and Will Warren blazed the loose ball over from the edge of the box. Two minutes later an Ashanti Pryce cross from the left caused panic in Ives box Toseland doing very well to block Stephens initial shot and Heath doing even better to fling himself to his right and fingertip Warren’s follow up effort around the post.
Having survived those two early scares Ives slowly began to work themselves into the game and as they got more used to the surface they started to move the ball around at pace. But the opening goal when it arrived came from almost nothing. Ethan Johnston did well to close down Herve Pepe-Ngoma on an attempted clearance but conceded the throw deep in Canaries territory. The throw down the line was won by Kyle Davison-Gordon whose knock down fell to Dylan Williams a threaded ball picked out the perfectly timed run into the box of Nabil Shariff who somehow squeezed his low drive past keeper Max Bramley and in off the near post.
Falling behind seemed to rattle the hosts and five minutes later the Ives doubled their advantage Richens robbed Warren on half way before striding forward and sliding the ball into the run of Johnston who kept is cool to fire past the exposed Bramley from just inside the box.
Ives were now in complete control and their high tempo game continued to rock the hosts back line with more goals looking likely from almost every attack. It took a brilliant recovery save from Bramley to deny Williams on the half hour. Nathan Hicks fired a fantastic diagonal ball to pick out Ed Hottor in space on the right. Hottor sprinted away down the touchline before cutting inside and pulling the ball back for Williams to hit a shot that looped in the air off the covering Dom Hill-Brown. It looked like it was going to go over Bramley and drop in the far corner of the net but the keeper moved his feet well and flung himself full length to claw the ball away.
The remainder of the first period saw Ives continue to dominate with Hottor having a close range shot blocked in 36th minute, Shariff having a fierce drive from a narrow angle blocked by Bramley in 38th minute and Johnston having a very good shout for a penalty turned down just seconds before the break.
Two up at half time, but Ives supporters will still nervous and the main topic of conversation was surely we are not going to throw away another two goal lead on the road, are we? To ease the nerves a little, if only for a while, Shariff calmly made it three in 54th minute. Watt and Williams combined well on the right but the latter’s cross into the box looked like it was going to be a simple header away for Pepe-Ngoma but somehow he completely missed the ball. The Ives centre forward said thank you very much and slotted the ball past the exposed Bramley.
At this point the visitors despite words from the dugout telling them to keep pressing, took their foot off the gas a little bit and allowed the hosts to get a foothold back into the game. Chances started to appear at the other end. In the 58th minute a quick break by Stephens created a shooting opportunity for Dunkley but the pacy number nine fired over from the edge of the box. Keeper Heath pulled off a magnificent save five minutes later. He failed to hang onto a powerful Dunkley drive from the right hand edge of the box and substitute Harry Bower pounced on the loose ball looking like he must score only for Heath to recover and somehow block the effort at point blank range.
The hosts were looking more and more likely to reduce the arrears and sure enough they did with twenty minutes to go. Canaries skipper Brady Hickey found a route through the centre of Ives back four setting up Stephens for a shot from the edge of the box that beat the diving Heath low to his right and went in off the upright. The pressure on the visitors was starting to build and two minutes later Ross Oulton curled a 25 yarder inches wide with Heath looking on.
The pressure was eased in 74th minute as Williams restored Ives three goal advantage. Hottor harried and robbed a dallying Hickey deep inside his own territory and fed in Shariff. We all assumed that he would go for the hat trick but he unselfishly fed the ball to his left to put Williams clean through and he emphatically beat Bramley with a thumping left foot drive that beat the keeper high to his left and nestled behind the stanchion. Shariff had one more chance to grab a deserved third three minutes later as a flowing Ives move ended with substitute Baker getting to the bye line and picking out the centre forward with his pull back. Sadly for Shariff Pepe-Ngoma did just enough to slide in and deflect the shot wide.
Had that gone in it could have been a very comfortable last ten minutes for Ives supporters but our nerves started to jangle a little when good work down the left by Pryce set up an opportunity at the back post for Dunkley who slammed the ball home to give the hosts a glimmer of hope.
Williams almost eased our concerns in 84th minute when he fired a free kick from just outside the box through the host’s three man wall. It took an excellent diving save low to his left by Bramley to keep the effort out. The keeper’s efforts were rewarded two minutes later as the hosts comeback of all comebacks looked even more likely to happen. Ives back line failed dismally to deal with a cross from the right that eventually arrived at the feet of Hickey at the back post who fired home from close range. Finger nails were almost down to the quick when Bower found space in the box to get away a shot that Heath did well to palm over the bar in the last of the ninety minutes.
Baker picked up an injury defending his own box as the game entered added time meaning that the added four minutes was going to have an even more agonising extension to it. A Canaries corner in the third added minute prompted keeper Bramley to try his luck in the opposition box. Fortunately for Ives the good fortune went their way as the keeper’s presence prevented Dunkley getting a clean header to the corner which was then cleared with Richens coming away with the ball. Hearing the shouts of the Ives faithful to shoot he tried his luck from fully fifty yards and he got it right as the ball curled on the breeze and bounced into the vacant net.
There was still time for Solkhon to concede a penalty as he dragged down Dunkley inside the box in 95th minute. Hickey slammed the resulting spot kick straight down the middle as Heath went to his right. But the agonising wait since August for another win on the road was finally over for Ives fans. Much as this game had entertainment in abundance, I think that personally a routine 2-0 win would make for much more comfortable viewing next time.
The win means Ives leapfrog their hosts in the table and move up to 14th place. The Canaries look like they are still trying to come to terms with their new playing surface but with a whole run of home games in the offing for them now they will want to learn quickly as the wrong end of the table looks like their present destiny. Both teams have vital games coming up over the Christmas and New Year period but we all now wait with bated breath to hear if Boris will allow us to play those games or if Covid will take them out for the second year in a row.
Final Score : Barwell 4 St Ives Town 5
BARWELL: Stephens 70, Dunkley 79, Hickey 86 & 90+6 pen
ST IVES: Shariff 20 & 54, Johnston 25, Williams 74, Richens 90+3
BARWELL: Bramley, Warren (Bower 57), Pryce, Pepe-Ngoma, Edjenguele, Brown-Hill, Brogan, Oulton, Dunkley, Hickey (capt), Stephens, Unused subs: Brown, Castle, Stabana, Nisevic
ST IVES: Heath, Watt, Davison-Gordon, Richens, Solkhon (capt), Toseland, Hottor (Westwood 83), Hicks, Shariff (Manangu 83), Johnston (Baker 59), Williams, Unused subs : Milne, Dwumfuo
Ives Supporters man of the match : Nabil Shariff
Attendance : 242
Report by Nigel Howlett. Video by Dave Hook.
|December 18, 2021||15:00||Southern Premier Central||2021-22||90'|
|Club||1st Half||Final Score|
|St Ives Town||2||5|